One of the joys of being an adult is that we get to get to explore new experiences. Once we’re out on our own, this takes on a whole new level of interest. We can have company over and no one can tell us not to. We can have fun nights out, or hopefully even find that one particular person that sticks out more than the rest. Maybe we'll keep them around for the long run. Even a deeper and more personal form of intimacy looks and sounds great!
But once we are married or in a long-term committed relationship, new challenges with being physical can arise. The monotony of the same old same old can wear us down.
We can work two jobs trying to pay off the mortgage, try for kids or change our birth control. There's also the additional the challenge of sharing a bed during pregnancy which is always a bumpy road to satisfaction. Of course, our bodies change as we age and go through the various cycles of life—finally ending in menopause where we no longer need to worry about accidental pregnancies.
Throughout all of this, we can have an amazing time with our partners—with a few sore days thrown in. Sometimes these days are a reminder of how much fun we had last night but occasionally they're symptoms of a deeper issue or a warning sign that something internally might be off balance. Here are 15 of the top reasons why we're tender after a romp in the sheets.
We're happily married, went on a Caribbean island honeymoon and have settled into a nice routine with our husbands. The next step some couples take is trying to have a baby. For some couples, this can happen purely by accident. For others, it takes years of hope, prayers, and IVF to achieve that elusive dream. And then there's the rest of us in the middle somewhere.
Ovulation is the point of the monthly cycle where a woman's body releases an egg to be fertilized.
While the stage is set with natural swimmer-friendly lubricant and a spike in libido, the cervix can often be in a lower position than usual—especially toward the end of the fertile window (usually about four days). This can cause the woman some pain during intercourse when his member bumps against the uterus' doorway. Changing positions or raising the bottom with a pillow can often make this sensation go away.
There's also ovulation pain to consider. Some women can experience ovulation pain for a few minutes during and after intercourse while others for up to 48 hours. It's usually an intense ache or cramp sensation. This is generally due to the nature of ovulation—an egg erupting violently out of its little sac in the ovaries. A warm washcloth over the abdomen can help relieve some of the aches. Finally, when trying to conceive, it's the time and frequency that often win out (especially with reluctant partners). Frequency can wear us down and make our tunnels ache for a day or two afterward.
All that frequent intercourse pays off and we get that positive plus sign on the pregnancy test. Excitement blossoms and then comes the morning sickness. This usually signals a dip in matrimonial activities for a month or two till the morning sickness passes, and we get that delicious second-trimester kick of hormones.
What we don't count on is the increased blood flow to our nether regions. Sure, we know about it. We've been told it can make for some amazing alone time but we don't count on it also being a cause for some post-coitus tenderness. The increased blood flow that supports the uterus during pregnancy can make our lady bits feel swollen and heavy (though if we peek down below, they'll look fine, just a nice blue or purple-ish shade form all the extra blood).
This can be a lovely sensation but due to the tightening of the v-walls from all the blood—the act itself can hurt and last for a while afterward as the muscles in the birth canal readjust. If the pain lasts for several hours or if there's bleeding, check with a doctor. Otherwise, we should take advantage and have hubby bring us ice cream while we stay nestled up in bed.
We all know that having a baby after the age of 35 can make the pregnancy a bit riskier than for younger women. One sign that something's wrong is painful or pain after the deed—especially if it's sharp and doesn't really go away.
In early pregnancy, this can signal an ectopic or tubal pregnancy.
This occurs when the fertilized egg attaches itself to somewhere other than the uterus lining—usually in one of the Fallopian tubes. Those tubes are not designed to hold a growing embryo. They swell up and cause considerable pain and bleeding before needing surgery to take care of the issue.
The causes for a tubal pregnancy are several which can include a previously scarred or blocked tube from a previous operation, infection in the tube, abnormalities or birth defects that leave the tube misshapen, and smoking—among others. It's best to have this taken care of sooner rather than later by a doctor.
Feeling dry down below? That dryness is like sliding down a water slide with no water and shoes first. Everything sticks and bops around instead of gliding smoothly and that's not a very pleasant sensation — especially when we're already pregnant and dealing with numerous other aches and pains.
This usually occurs in the first trimester and is simply due to changing hormone levels which can affect the creation of cervical mucus. The mucus returns in full force in the second trimester to keep everything squeaky clean, but until then a handy lubricant can help with the dryness.
In some cases though, dryness, when accompanied by other symptoms, can indicate a bigger problem such as ectopic pregnancy—which should not be dismissed. Other signs include abdominal pain, spotting, extreme fatigue, frequent breast tenderness and low blood sugar. Generally, though, we just need a little slick in our slide.
During pregnancy, our uterus and cervix are the main parts that undergo the most changes as they carry the baby and prepare for childbirth. One change that mainly affects the cervix is that it becomes swollen and softer than usual. This is intended to make it easier to dilate and open up in nine months. In the meantime, it can make for some scares and sore days. The cervix is lower than usual on the inside and can easily be reached by his member in some positions. This can cause bruising and even some bleeding from the bumping action against the cervix.
Changing positions often helps with this but with all bleeding during pregnancy, we have to keep an eye on it.
One of the other things that swell up in pregnancy—which husbands tend to immediately notice—is our breasts. Sure, bigger boobs are nice, but these can't be touched because they're so tender—cue manly pouting in the other room. If we love having our breasts stimulated during intercourse, this new tenderness can be a disappointing turn off for us. It gets better but not for awhile.
One health concern that frequently—and with good reason—pops up during intimate discussions is STIs or STDs. Transmitted infections or diseases are no joke and can pass between partners and mother to child during pregnancy and childbirth. Some of the common ones are Chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, hepatitis B, and HIV. There are more, but we get the picture. These are transmitted through close touch, blood-to-blood contact, mucosal secretions, semen and other bodily functions.
One of the best ways to handle something like this is to be tested and then treated. Sometimes an indicator of an otherwise unknown infection is pain during intercourse or afterwards—especially if accompanied by bleeding and cramps. While there is a reason to believe that monogamous couples have fewer infections to worry about, during pregnancy it's always safer to check and be sure rather than sorry later. Plus, now is a good time to plan out any awkward conversations we might have to have with our partners.
We're pretty clear that increased blood flow during pregnancy to the nether regions can be a great thing for a climax—like oh-la-la great. Sometimes it can be a tad scary, too.
When we climax our uterus contracts, often squeezing our protruding belly into a triangular shape. This may look dramatic and concerning but it's normal. Then there are the post coitus cramps which can range in pain from mild to worst menstrual cramps ever. This
is normal too and should not cause alarm.
After all, we always have these post-climax cramps—we just couldn't feel them before we became pregnant.
It is important to monitor. Even more so if these cramps are accompanied by bleeding, linger for more than an hour or two and increase in intensity. If we're some of the unlucky few with a high-risk pregnancy or have reason to be concerned about placental bleeding or premature labor, then avoiding this, or even intercourse altogether might be in the books.
Ok, so we made it through the pregnancy—we survived! We pushed that baby out of our itty-bitty lady bits and we're invincible! Sleep-deprived—but invincible. And then that six-week check-up rolls around and our husbands get all tentatively hopeful. We've got the green light that our bodies are healed enough for spicing up the love life a little. After a six-week break, we know that someone's all ready for this bit of good news. He may be ready, but are we?
Most importantly, will it hurt? Only we can decide for ourselves with our partners when we're physically, mentally and emotionally ready (by the way—it's very important for husbands to be supportive and patient during this phase and not pressure their wives into having intercourse too early).
Once we do decide to go for it, it won't be all fireworks and fun. We'll have to plan it, take it slow, use lots of lubricants because we're a bit dry downstairs and have low expectations. Just trying it can be a bonding experience. Many women find it a similar experience to their very first time in that it wasn't great but it wasn't bad either. We'll be a bit sore the next day but should bounce back fairly quickly to try again and work up to a comfortable level of intercourse once more.
There's the obvious tender boobs and milk spraying everywhere when least expected, but there's also this fancy worded little thing called Lactational Atrophic Vaginitis. This is the condition where we're breastfeeding the baby and our estrogen levels are naturally low so we can produce milk, but this also causes our girl parts to be dry, sore, inflamed, itchy and irritated.
Doing the deed during this time can leave us feeling very sore and turned off by the whole experience. Lubricant can help but more often than not,
our doctor will prescribe us a low dose estrogen supplement that won't affect breastfeeding and will help with our sore bits.
This helps to perk us back up and helps make our limited time with our husband count for something pleasurable. This condition can last the entire time we're breastfeeding. Currently, it is recommended that we nurse our babies for two years. That's a long time without any booty.
Yeast infections are one of the common downstairs disruptions. They're usually harmless and involve a diet change, a flora/fauna balancing supplement or an over the counter yeast treatment which clears up the issue and leaves us feeling considerably better. Hot showers help, too.
Surprisingly often though when we self-diagnose a yeast infection and the treatment we received does nothing, we learn that what we really have is a bacterial infection. A bacterial infection is a bit harder to get rid of and just as uncomfortable and painful as a yeast infection. The husband can contract it through intercourse—even though it'll affect him less dramatically than us. Same with yeast infections.
At least men have their own worrisome concerns that make sure they don't get off the hook too easily. At any rate, a quick trip to the doctor with a prescription can help clear up the infection—yeast or bacteria—and then we're good to go for some canoodles under the sheets.
Some women have a little known condition called Vulvodynia, which is a chronic pain in the vulva for no known reason. It can occur in one or two spots or multiple spots of the vulva and is usually described as a burning sensation though a few have said it's similar to acid being poured onto the skin.
Daily activities don't usually affect the condition but when pressure is applied to the area, that's when we get the pain.
Pressure can come from intimate foreplay or intercourse, tampon insertion, a gynecologist exam, prolonged sitting and wearing tight form fitted pants. Some women develop this condition after years of going without while others have felt it since their very first experience of physical intimacy. Treatments vary from therapy to pain meds, to topical treatments or to even surgery for some severe cases. Since it affects our relationships so intricately, a relationship therapist is always recommended.
Urinary tract infections can affect men and women, in the lower tract (urethra and bladder) and the upper tract (ureters and kidneys). UTIs can make coitus painful and are caused by any number of microbe organisms getting into the wrong spaces. Lower tract infections are easily treated and—while painful and considerably uncomfortable—pose no lasting threat.
Upper tract infections can get into the kidneys and if left untreated can cause severe damage—even to the extreme point where a kidney transplant is required. Antibiotics are the go-to method for treating a urinary tract infection. Taking cranberry supplements or drinking cranberry juice can also help fight off an infection and strengthen the overall health of our urinary tracts. As always, drinking eight or more cups of water a day help to flush out toxins and other nasty things—keeping us healthy, happy and hydrated.
When men and women become massively stressed out, our bodies activate one or more areas that can easily trigger with the slightest touch or thought. One of these areas in women is the tender downstairs. When that very private part goes into panic mode, the doctors call it vaginismus.
This basically means it's in panic down there. It occurs when the act, or thought of the act of inserting anything, including tampons or exams, causes the delicate lady bits to panic and tighten up until penetration is extremely painful or even impossible.
There's no known cause for this beyond some surgical or birth defects and an overload of stress.
Women have described the pain as a ripping sensation, burning at the birth canal entrance, sharp pain inside the private parts, burning for days afterward, a pressure in the same region, and pain in the lower abdomen.
Sometimes pain during and after the act can be caulked up to changes in our cervixes, and uteruses as we age and our hormone levels change. One change in our uteruses that can cause us pain is when fibroids appear. These are non-cancerous tumors inside the lining of the womb and can be very painful. Anti-hormonal medications and radiofrequency ablation are the common treatments for fibroids. No one really knows what causes fibroids but genetics and hormonal fluctuations are key to their development.
Another common occurrence that can affect our intimate lives is cysts. Cysts are fluid-filled sacs that grow over the ovary. Most are harmless and go away on their own with no symptoms or side-effects but sometimes they can linger and progress. As they grow symptoms appear that include bloating or abdominal swelling, painful bowel movements, painful intercourse, pelvic pain before or during the menstrual cycle, breast tenderness, pain in the lower back or thighs, and nausea or vomiting. Severe symptoms include a fever, severe or sharp pelvic pain, fainting or dizziness and rapid breathing. This indicts a ruptured cyst or ovarian torsion and should be treated by a doctor.
At the end of our journey in our bodily cycles, there is menopause. Menopause is when our egg factory closes up shop permanently and we enter a new phase in our lives, free of periods, pregnancies and crazy hormonal mood swings (at least, once the transition is complete). Due to the lowering of our estrogen levels during menopause, the walls of the birth canal dry up and tighten which can make the deed painful. Women have reported feeling tight and painful during intercourse then feeling sore afterward, in and around their lady bits.
If left untreated, this can lead to delicate tissues tearing and bleeding during intercourse which doesn't sound too fun. Water or silicone based lubricants are a must for this stage in life—as well as communication and patience. Some doctors can also prescribe low dose estrogen supplements to help with the transition.